Wednesday, April 24, 2013

GM Games Philosophy

Philosophy...snore.  I know.  I know.  But every company has them.  I really can't call GM Games a company, but a teeny tiny business.  Still, I try to keep it as professional as I possibly can.  If people are going to give me money I want to make sure they get what they pay for.  The following are a few of the ideas I keep in mind each time I see an order in my email.  And seeing those orders come in, never gets old.  I still give The Whisk a shout when I see them, "Sold two more" or "Wow, three order just came in".

I ship someone's order the next day 99% of the time.  I can count how many times I haven't over the past year.  With the Google+ connection, if I know the person from there I will also send them a quick message to let them know order received and on its way.  I can do this because I may get a few dozen orders when I release something, but the numbers have never been overwhelming.  If I received orders in the 100s then of course I wouldn't have time to send a message, I'd be glassy-eyed putting orders together.

Some folks have special requests and I try to accommodate the best I can.  One guy likes to have his wrapped in plastic because his mail often comes beat up and rained on.  Whisk has a roll of cling wrap or I use zip lock bag from her stockpile. Some request a cardboard support be placed within to help keep it from bending.  This one is a bit tough just because some of the mail carries will charge more if its a 'stiff' package.  But other wise I haven't had any problems.  One of my customers told me their zine got damage badly in shipping so I sent another.  Again, I can do this because my business is so miniscule.  I've gotten to know many of my customers on an individual basis.

Create a product as good as possible.  No product is going to be perfect.  And even with the fantastic proofreaders I have something is going to be missed or I just screw up what they suggested.  The latter is more the problem.  I've learned to be more patient with the process.  Before I would complete a manuscript, do my own once over and read through and thought it was done....not even close.  All I did was regret the stupid mistakes that were still included.  Then I would have to take it back and do it again.  Proofreaders are worth their weight in miniatures and not compensated enough for their efforts.  More on them later.  I also hope the product I put out is useful and fun.  If its not fun, hell I don't want to do it.  And I also hope it has a twist on it to make it a little new or fresh.  This is tough to do with so much coming out, so much that has come out.  This ground is well tread. 

Compensate the people that help me.  The artists are the only ones I pay.  I call it pizza money because that's about all you'll be able to get with it.  But I still make sure I have money set aside for them and get them print comp copies.  PDFs are okay, but really I think if someone helps getting something completed, print is a proper way to go.  Proofreaders, while I don't pay them any pizza money (I hope I can change this in the future) I offer them comp copies of the zine/adventure.  Print copies.  A good proofreader is worth his or her weight in miniatures.  I know I said that already, but its true.  They can increase the value of a product by getting rid of the errors and enhancing the cool stuff.

Freebies are important.  I know when I first got back into the d20 gaming I went onto RPGNow and went mad crazy downloading all the free stuff they had to offer.  Most of it I deleted quickly, but there was some great stuff included also.  Then I went back and bought more products from that person/company.  Plus its just cool to have a freebie to hand out to someone.  I recently sent out copies of the Mini Manor in print and everyone has been very appreciative so far.  I'm doing this to have fun first and make a little money second.  The money I make goes back into the zines or lets me buy the newest coolest gaming product out there...or invest in another Kickstarter.

Reliability.  There was a reason why I took off the subscription option for The Manor.  Once I got hit with mass amounts of work at my job it was tough to get my mind into writing a zine when I got home.  I didn't want my subscribers to think I'd forgotten the faith they put in me by paying upfront for the zines.  The gap between #2 and #3 was so long that some of my subscribers forgot they had already paid me and ordered an issue.  While I was flattered by their buying an issue it also reminded me about how long it had been.  You see people getting frustrated by Kickstarter delays and here I am taking money for future products, that I don't know when they be done.  If I was doing this kind of thing full-time or even part-time I could get int a regular schedule, but that's not possible at this time.  So now I just offer them for sale as they come out.  Less pressure.  And folks get what they pay for.

I'm very open about my business and the money I make, the units I sell and the costs involved.  If anyone has a question about anything in my business I will let them know.  The one thing I won't discuss is how much I do pay my guys.  That is their prerogative to share that information.  It's not up to me.  Part of it for me is they are amazingly talented and offering their services to me for a mere pittance.  They do it because the love to game.  They love seeing their art in the games.  But its still not up to me to divulge that information.  At least not at this time.  But if you ever have any questions on how I do things, how much I make doing something, how many sales I make or whatever, I give you as accurate info as I can.  I am a lousy bookkeeper.  I'm considering taking an on-line course for that kind of thing.  Then I can dazzle you with spread sheets.

That's about all I can think of at this time.  GM Games is a hobby that makes me a little scratch to buy more gaming stuff.  It allows me to interact with people I would haven't maybe met or spoken to.  It's a fun activity for me and there is nothing more exciting than seeing an order in my email and shouting out to the Whisk, "Got another one," as I reach over for an envelope and a creepy butterfly stamp.